Leading government, semi-government, education, and private establishments in the United Arab Emirates met at the HCT-Abu Dhabi Women’s College (ADWC) in the second week of December to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a formalised national Information Security Awareness (ISA) committee.
The initiative, spearheaded by regional IT security solutions and consultancy specialist Help AG and Computer Science and Information Security facility members at the Higher Colleges of Technology, aims to set up a centralised body that will address security risks related to a lack of online security awareness in the UAE, and will also develop standards, guidelines, and best practices for effective implementation of information security awareness programs and workshops across the country.
Mona Nasser Almansoori, Principal Information Security Engineer, Ministry of Presidential Affairs said, “Creating a committee that educates children, students, parents, employees and generally the people of our society, is a big responsibility that should be taken by all of us. It needs developing from all the organisations and the private companies in the UAE to create an unbeatable success. I am very proud to be one of the agents in the ISA committee, which is initiated by Help AG and HCT, and I am willing to keep the feeling of the national security awareness in the UAE. At the end we have to work together to achieve the committee goals which provides information awareness training by implementing affective information security awareness programs.”
Last year, losses caused due to cyber crime in the UAE totaled USD420 million according to Symantec, a Help AG vendor partner. While the country leads the region in terms of laws and measures against cyber crime, Ali Alamadi, Manager Strategic Consulting at Help AG stressed during the meeting that awareness would be key to effectively address this growing phenomenon. “Getting the country’s leading organizations involved will give us keen insight into what needs to be done to improve awareness. Our combined effort will help build a security-aware nation,” he said.
The meeting was attended by over twenty five people, including representatives from different sectors in the UAE including the government, semi-government, private, and academic sectors. During this initial meeting, Help AG laid out the objectives of the ISA committee, highlighted the roles and responsibilities of members, and outlined the roadmap and timelines for the proposed initiatives and undertakings.
The role of students was discussed in detail as they will play a key role as the ISA champions to raise awareness across the country. “Involvement of the nation’s youth is vital to the success of the ISA initiative and we intend to foster their development into the ‘awareness champions’ of the future,” said Ali Alamadi.
A key point in the meeting’s agenda was outlining the structure and goals of the committee. It was decided that the ISA will be comprised of 4 working groups, ISAC, ISAP, ISAL and ISAST that will focus upon information security awareness concerns for children and teenagers; parents; judges and legal institutions; and universities and colleges respectively. These four divisions will be governed and managed by the ISA Leadership committee which will facilitate interoperation between the workgroups and overlook the general administration of the program.
While highlighting the chief responsibilities of the ISA workgroups, Help AG laid emphasis on the need to coordinate with the Ministry of Education and educational institutions in the UAE to enhance the existing information security-specific curriculum and to develop programs for law makers and judges that will educate them; thus helping to shape future IT security standards, policies and laws in the country. It was also put forth that spreading awareness would be done through campaigns, meetings, workshops, round tables and trainings, targeting prime focus groups. In addition, it was agreed that the ISA will utilize posters, booklets and videos in both Arabic and English to spread information awareness across the country.
“Here in the Higher Colleges of Technology, we see a strong need to design a security awareness program that keeps the Information Security at the forefront of the users’ minds. By users, we mean employees, students, parents and children. This requires us all to believe in it, work as a team, and be willing to invest time and effort into promoting the program. Both our staff and our students are very willing to play an active role in such a promising initiative,” said Ms. Nadja Pizika, Program Chair, CIS, Khalifa City Women’s College, HCT
Also highlighting that widespread awareness would be the focal point of the committee, Dr. Maurice Danaher, Associate Professor, College of Technological Innovation, Zayed University, said,“Being aware of security issues in the cyber world is important for all sectors of society. Cyber security is like road safety – it effects everyone. This initiative will try to reach people all over the Emirates and will lead I believe to better and safer practices in this new era of technology.”
For more information, please visit www.helpag.com.